Registration Renewal in California
- Use the CA DMV's online renewal service.
- Mail your renewal notice and payment back to the DMV.
- Visit your local branch in person with your notice and payment.
- Employ a third-party online service for expedited processing and delivery.
Ready for the details? Keep reading!
Californians must renew their vehicles' registration annually, as required by the CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Registration fees provide funding for such things as the building and upkeep of streets and highways, the California Highway Patrol, and local county departments.
New to CA?
The following is for renewing your registration only. If you just moved to California and need to register your car, truck, or motorcycle, check out our California car registrations page.
Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice
The CA DMV will send you a renewal notice well in advance of your registration's expiration date. The notice will include such information as:
Looking for your registration's mailing status?
To get an update on your registration, head to our Status Check page, select "California," and choose your method of contact to get in touch with the CA DMV.
- The date of your tag's expiration.
- Renewal fees.
- Vehicle information.
- Emissions requirement.
- Delinquency fees.
- You must pay all delinquency or ticket fees listed on your renewal notice before renewing your registration.
- You will only be allowed to renew by mail or in person if you owe any extra fees.
Didn't Receive a CA Car Renewal Notice?
If you did not receive a renewal notice in the mail, either contact your local DMV office or call (800) 777-0133. To avoid missed renewal notices in the future, be sure, if you move, to update your new address with the DMV.
NOTE: Even if you don't receive a notice, you are still obligated to register on time.
How to Renew Your CA Vehicle Registration
You have four renewal options:
- By mail.
- By phone.
- In person.
We'll go through each process with you below.
*NOTE: If you haven't received your renewal documents, you can check the status of your registration by contacting the CA DMV.
Registration Renewal Fees
The CA DMV provides an Online Fee Calculator to help you decipher your registration renewal fees.
Fees vary based on a number of factors, including:
- The year, weight, and value of your vehicle.
- Special license plate fees.
- Local county or district fees.
- Delinquency fees, such as unpaid parking tickets, must be resolved before you can renew.
After renewing your registration, you may be eligible for a tax deduction on your vehicle license fee.
Late Fees, Penalties & Fee Refunds
The California DMV assesses fees and penalties for late renewals, as well as offers a renewal fee refund in the event that you leave the state before your renewal period.
Below you can find more on both of these provisions.
Emissions & Smog Testing
Your renewal notice will indicate if you need an emissions test.
For additional information on exemptions, testing fees, locations, and what to do if your vehicle fails the test, visit our CA Smog Test Section.
Military Registration Renewal
If your vehicle's CA registration is expiring soon and you are deployed as a member of the armed services, you may be eligible to delay payment until you return.
To be eligible, you must:
- Be a member of the Armed Forces, Armed Forces Reserve, or National Guard.
- Be temporarily deployed outside the state and engaged in combat or homeland defense purposes.
- Not be deployed solely for training, processing, or permanent change of station purposes.
- Be only applying to have the fees that you incurred during your time of deployment waived.
To have any late fees waived, you must:
- Visit your local DMV office and follow the standard registration renewal procedures (see above).
- Complete a Statement of Facts (Form REG 256), indicating your active duty status and deployment dates.
You have 60 days from the time your deployment is terminated to apply for a penalty waiver. For more information contact the CA DMV at (800) 777-0133.
It's best to schedule an appointment with the CA DMV before visiting.
If you received a renewal notice for a vehicle that you do not plan on operating (e.g. drive, park, store, or have towed) on public roads for the entire registration year, you may apply for Planned Non-Operation (PNO) status to avoid paying renewal fees.
Replacement Registration Certificates, Stickers & License Plates
If at any time your registration certificate or stickers get lost, stolen, or damaged, you need to immediately replace them.
The same is true if you need to replace lost or stolen license plates.
Take the Auto Insurance Quiz Today
- REG 5090
- REG 102
- REG 256